Friday, April 18th8.1°C

No post holiday rust on Rockets game


That's how Kelowna Rockets forward Ryan Olsen described his team's systematic dismantling of the Kamloops Blazers Friday night before the first sellout of the season at Prospera Place.

Olsen scored twice to lead the Rockets to the 7-1 thumping of the visiting Blazers in the first game for both teams following a 10 day Christmas break.

Carter Rigby, Zach Franko, Myles Bell, Cole Linaker and Rourke Chartier also scored for the Rockets who built up a 4-0 lead after 20 minutes and extended it to 7-0 just 6:05 into the second.

Head coach Ryan Huska says there is always some concern coming back after a long break but says the group still had a positive vibe coming off a successful 6-0 eastern road trip.

"We had a good skate last night (Thursday) where the energy seemed to be still there - I think they were still excited about the trip we did have," says Huska.

"We can sense some nights as coaches whether the energy is there or not and tonight it definitely was there before the game. There was buzz in our room, there was a buzz in our building. I guess when you see that or you sense that you know it could be a good night."

The Rockets good night started on the first shift and the first shot.

Rigby got the Rockets rolling just 35 second into the game when he banged home a loose puck off a scramble at the corner of the crease that got caught near goaltender Taran Kozun's left pad. The Kamloops netminder inadvertently pulled the puck into his own net when he dragged his pad toward the goal.

Franko upped the lead five minutes later from a sharp angle off Riley Stadel's rebound.

Just 27 seconds later Bell scored his 18th on a one-timer from the right circle off a crisp centering feed from Tyrell Goulbourne.

A Kamloops timeout slowed the Rockets for a few minutes until Linaker made it 4-0 before the halfway point of the first.

Cole Martin's shot was stopped by Kozun, however, the rebound went directly to Tate Coughlin who spotted Linaker for the one-timer.

The assist was the first Western Hockey League point for Coughlin in his first WHL game.

The Rockets didn't let up over the first half of the second period upping the lead to 7-0 before coasting the rest of the way.

Tyson Ness spoiled Jordon Cooke's bid for a third shutout on the season when he converted a rebound 31 seconds into the third.

It was one of only a sparse few scoring chances the Blazers had all night.

"I thought our start was good," added Huska.

"When you score on your first shift it puts them on their heels a little bit and I think it gave us the energy we needed. I liked our group tonight - there was energy in the building and our players were pretty happy to be home as well."

The Rockets, winners of 13 in a row don't get long to enjoy the comforts of home.

They're back on the bus Saturday for a trip to Vancouver and a date with the Giants to kick off a four game road trip that makes stops in Portland Tuesday and Thursday and back in Vancouver next Friday.

They conclude the gruelling stretch with a home date with the Giants to conclude a string of four games in five nights.

Damon Severson didn't play Friday.

The club gave the defenceman a few extra days at home after he spent several days in Sweden with Team Canada before being cut from the squad just prior to Christmas.

Severson will rejoin the team Saturday in Vancouver.

The Rockets are also without assistant coach Dan Lambert, forward Nick Merkley and defenceman Joe Gatenby who are all at the World Under 17 Hockey Challenge in Nova Scotia.

Lambert was replaced on the bench by assistant Kim Dillabaugh.

"Dilly did a great job. You rely on him (Lambert), you realize how much you rely on him," says Huska.

"Dan and I have a great relationship where I trust everything he does. Kim has been on the bench before. I think he understands what he has to do and I know he is going to do a great job."

Huska says the Rockets will also utilize the services of former Rocket Cam Paddock for the next several games.

Paddock has retired from hockey and is now a minor hockey coach in Vancouver.


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